The story so far:

John McKay and Mary Kilpatrick were married and brought up a family in and around Riggend in North Lanarkshire. Their six children were born between 1830 and 1844, although a couple of them died in infancy. Sometime between 1851 and 1863, John [1] Snr and John [2]  Jnr, both coal miners, disappeared from the records, but had obviously left the family home — John [2] Jnr reappeared in Cumnock, Ayrshire, in 1863.

Meanwhile, our McMeekin and Flynn families were evolving in Wigtownshire. John [3] McMeekin married Helen Flynn in 1835, and had at least eight children before 1848. John’s parents had died before 1851, but Helen’s mother, Betty Connell, died in 1859, and her father, Peter Flynn, lived till 1861 — and that was when the last of Helen’s brood made the move from Newton Stewart, Wigtownshire, to Cumnock in Ayrshire.

In this chapter, we look at the lives of my McKay-McKeekin ancestors who lived for over 30 years in the mining town of Cumnock, which lay in the parish of Old Cumnock, Ayrshire:

    1. John [3] McMeekin and Helen Flynn (my 3G-Grandparents);
    2. John [2] McKay and Elizabeth McMeekin (my 2G-Grandparents); and
    3. Thomas [2] Brown and Mary McCulloch (my 2G-Grandparents).

1. John [3] McMeekin & Helen “Alice” Flynn

As we saw on the previous page, John [3] and Helen and six of their children were living at Old Glenluce Road, Newton Stewart, in 1851. It is unknown exactly when the family moved north but, by 1861, the couple were living at Waterside Row in Cumnock, Ayrshire, with daughters Elizabeth, Mary and Jane.

1861 SCOTLAND CENSUS: Waterside Row, Old Cumnock, Ayrshire 1Source: 1861 Scotland Census; 610/ 3/ 13; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire.

John McMeekin; Head; Mar; 54; Shoemaker; born Wigtownshire, Penninghame, N. Stewart
Helen McMeekin;Wife; Mar; 55; born Wigtownshire, Penninghame
Elizabeth McMeekin; Daur; Unm; 21; General Servant; born Wigtownshire, Penninghame, N. Stewart
Mary McMeekin; Daur; Unm; 18; Domestic Servant; born Wigtownshire, Penninghame, N. Stewart
Jane McMeekin; Daur; Unm; 12; born Wigtownshire, Penninghame, N. Stewart
… plus 2 lodgers: (Peter Simson & Mary Brown)

The oldest boy, William, was now a seaman, and next seen in 1871 married to Stewart Donnan and living in Liverpool. The second oldest, David, had married a single mother, Margaret Cunningham, on Christmas Eve 1859,2Source: 1859 Scotland Marriages, 609/ 12, Ochiltree, Ayrshire. and they were living at Townhead, Cumnock,3Source: 1861 Scotland Census, 610/ 3/ 5, Old Cumnock, Ayrshire. with two children — their tragic story will unfold in the next section. Andrew had also left the family home, and was likely working in England, as we know he married Mary Ann Sparks during September 1862 in Cumberland. The other two daughters, Anne and Agnes, were living at Pouton Lodge with their grandfather Peter Flynn (see the previous page).

Two views of Cumnock looking northwest along Glaisnock Street and over Gorbals Bridge. The photo on the left is from about 1849, and shows the steeple of the old parish church in the background and the tollbooth and gate on Ayr Road to the left; the Royal Hotel is on the bend. The photo to the right is from c.1890, and shows how much the town had changed in those years.

By 1871, all of John and Helen’s children had moved on — some had died — but they now had two orphans to look after:

1871 SCOTLAND CENSUS: Deil’s Elbow Street, Old Cumnock, Ayrshire 4Source: 1871 Scotland Census; 610/ 1/ 25; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire.

John McMeekin; Head; Mar; 68; Mason’s Labourer (cannot work); born Gallowayshire, Penninghame
Helen McMeekin; Wife; Mar; 70; born Gallowayshire, Penninghame
William Paterson; Grandson; Unm; 14; Ironstone Drawer’s Helper; born Ayrshire, Ochiltree
Marion McMeekin; G Daughter; Unm; 11; Scholar; born Ayrshire, Ochiltree

The children of John and Helen

I have never found any additional records for Mary McMeekin (b. 12 Jun 1845)5Source: 1845 Scotland O.P.R. Births, 895/ 20 170, Penninghame, Wigtownshire. after 1861; she may have married, moved to another county, or emigrated — or died. The other girls had all married in Cumnock: Anne (m. Peter McCulloch, 2 Feb 1863)6Source: 1863 Scotland Statutory Marriages, 610/ 9, Old Cumnock, Ayrshire.; Elizabeth (m. John [2] McKay, 6 Mar 1863)7Source: 1863 Scotland Statutory Marriages, 610/ 12, Old Cumnock, Ayrshire.; Agnes (m. John Ross, 29 Dec 1865)8Source: 1866 Scotland Statutory Marriages, 610/ 1, Old Cumnock, Ayrshire.; and Jane (m. David Fraser, 20 Aug 1869).9Source: 1869 Scotland Statutory Marriages, 610/ 31, Old Cumnock, Ayrshire.

As for the boys, the story is less positive. William, as we see above, was married and had permanently moved to Kirkdale, near Liverpool, in England where he worked as a seaman. He had six children (including a set of twins) between 1871 and 1878, but died around June 1891 in West Derby aged only 56 years. His brothers were much less fortunate. Andrew died aged 26 in a mining accident, and his story is told in the article “The Andrew Curse”. As we have seen, David married Margaret Cunningham just before Christmas in 1859, and she already had an illegitimate son, William Paterson, who was born in Ochiltree on 22 Nov 1856.10Source: 1856 Scotland Statutory Births, 609/  46, Ochiltree, Ayrshire. In February 1860, in Ochiltree, this couple had Marion,11Source: 1860 Scotland Statutory Births, 609/ 7, Ochiltree, Ayrshire. the first of three girls. David and Margaret were in Cumnock for the 1861 census, but back in Ochiltree for the birth of  Ellen in September 1861.12Source: 1861 Scotland Statutory Births, 609/ 39, Ochiltree, Ayrshire.

Disaster, however, was about to strike this family soon after the next girl, Margaret, was born in Townfoot, Cumnock, on 3 August  1893.13Source: 1863 Scotland Statutory Births, 610/ 84, Old Cumnock, Ayrshire. Five days after the birth, Margaret Cunningham died of scarlet fever,14Source: 1863 Scotland Statutory Deaths, 610/ 60, Old Cumnock, Ayrshire. and,  six days later, baby Margaret died as well;15Source: 1863 Scotland Statutory Deaths, 610/ 61, Old Cumnock, Ayrshire. David was now a widower, with three children to provide for. How he coped is anyone’s guess, but it is likely he and the surviving children lived with John [3] and Helen, as young children could not possibly be cared for by a working miner in those days.

But, there was worse to come: in January 1869, David died at Townfoot, Cumnock, from chronic bronchitis;16Source: 1869 Scotland Statutory Deaths, 610/ 4, Old Cumnock, Ayrshire. and, six months later, eight-year-old Ellen died at her grandmother’s home from an “effusion of blood at the base of the brain”.17Source: 1869 Scotland Statutory Births, 609/ 39, Old Cumnock, Ayrshire. When the 1871 census came round, young William and Marion, as we see above, were living with their grandparents in Deil’s Elbow Street, which winds its way down to Glaisnock Water from where Townfoot and the Town Square come together.

The Choir Invisible

The 1871 census was to be the last for John [3] McMeekin and Helen Flynn. Nothing else is known of them except what is recorded in their death certificates. John was first to pass:

1876 SCOTLAND STATUTORY DEATHS: Old Cumnock, Ayrshire 18Source: 1876 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 610/ 17; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire.

John [3] McMekenLabourer
(Married to Helen Flinn)
died: 23rd February 1876  (2:30 pm)  age: 71 years   at: Townfoot, Cumnock

father: John [2] McMeken, Cattle dealer (deceased)
mother: Jane McMeekin M.S. Mitchell (deceased)

cause: Chronic Bronchitis  doctor: D. MacKinnon, Surgeon
informant: David Fraser, Son-in-law (present)

David Fraser was the husband of John’s youngest child, Jane. They had married in 1869 and had moved to Kirkdale, England, before 1881, possibly to join Jane’s older brother, William. Apart from introducing another variation to the spelling of ‘McMeekin’ (McMeken), David had given his father-in-law’s mother as “Jane Mitchell”. This is almost certainly incorrect, and no record has been found for a Jane Mitchell in Wigtownshire. John’s mother was Mary McCreddie, but this is not the last time that the name “Mitchell” was to appear — just under four years later, Helen shuffled off her mortal coil:

1880 SCOTLAND STATUTORY DEATHS: Old Cumnock, Ayrshire 19Source: 1880 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 610/ 7; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire.

Alice McMeken(Widow of John [3] McMeken)
died: 27th January 1880  (3:40 pm)  age: 63 years  at: Barrhill, Cumnock

father: Peter Flinn, Farm-Grieve (deceased)
mother: — Flinn M.S. Mitchell (deceased)

cause: Hemiplegia, Several Months  doctor: And. Black Morrison M.B.
informant: John Ross, Son in law

Once again, the informant on the death certificate is a son-in-law: John Ross, who married Helen’s second youngest, Agnes, in 1865. The most obvious thing from this record is the fact that Helen is called “Alice” — no wonder this record was so hard to find! However, it confirms the use of the same name on her home parish marriage entry in 1835,20Source: 1835 Scotland O.P.R. Marriages; 897/ 20 111; Sorbie, Wigtownshire., and that is also the name used for her on her daughter Anne’s death certificate in 1892.21Source: 1892 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 897/ 15; Sorbie, Wigtownshire. Apparently, Helen had been called Alice as a nickname or cognomen most of her life.

Also of note is that her mother’s surname is given as “Mitchell”, as with John’s death certificate — but, again, this is definitely wrong. Helen’s mother was Elizabeth Connell — so, where do these informants get the name “Mitchell” from? I presume the name has some as yet unknown connection to the family, and the sons-in-law were simply confused. It’s likely Helen had a stroke sometime in the previous year leaving one side of her body weakened or paralysed — but, she was 74, not 63.

2. John [2] McKay & Elizabeth McMeekin

From our first chapter in this story, we will remember that John [2] McKay had moved away from Riggend in Lanarkshire before 1861. It isn’t known where he was during the 1861 census, but he was certainly in Cumnock by March 1863 when he married Elizabeth McMeekin (the marriage details are in the second chapter). Elizabeth was one-month pregnant when she married John [2], and the first child of their marriage was my great-grandfather Andrew McKay:

1863 SCOTLAND STATUTORY BIRTHS: Old Cumnock, Ayrshire 22Source: 1863 Scotland Statutory Births; 610/ 112; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire.

Andrew McKay
born: 18th November, 1863  (4:00 pm)    at: Townfoot, Cumnock

father: John [2] McKay, Iron Miner
mother: Elizabeth McKay M.S. McMeken
married: 1863 March 6th  at: Cumnock

informant: John McKay (his X mark), Father

The life and times of Andrew McKay are explored in the two following chapters: The McKay Diaspora and The Andrew Curse, so there is little need to say more about him here. In all, though, John [2] and Elizabeth had seven children between 1863 and 1877 — the first four in Townfoot, Cumnock, and the last two at Glengyron Row. The 1871 census finds the family in the Townfoot area of the village with five children and a lodger:

1871 SCOTLAND CENSUS: Green Ark, Old Cumnock, Ayrshire 23Source: 1871 Scotland Census; 610/ 1/ 28; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire.

John [2] McKay; Head; Mar; 35; Ironstone Miner; born Lanarkshire, New Monkland
Elizabeth McKay; Wife; Mar; 36; born Gallowayshire, Penninghame
Andrew McKay; Son; 6; Scholar; born Ayrshire, Cumnock
James McKay; Son; 5; Scholar; born Ayrshire, Cumnock
Jane McKay; Daur; 3; born Ayrshire, Cumnock
William McKay; Son; 1; born Ayrshire, Cumnock
John McMeekin; Stepson; 10; Scholar; born Ayrshire, Cumnock
David McAlister; Lodger; 20; Pit-Headsman; born Ayrshire, Ayr

And this record tells a story. For the first time, we discover that Elizabeth had an illegitimate child before she married: John McMeekin, who was born on 5 Aug 1861 at Townfoot, Cumnock.24Source: 1861 Scotland Statutory Births; 610/ 88; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire. His father is unknown, but young John would have been only 11-months old when Elizabeth fell pregnant to Andrew, and 19-months when she married John [2] McKay. However, by 1881, the McKay family had moved to Glengyron Row, a bit over a kilometre (750 yards) to the south-west:

1881 SCOTLAND CENSUS: 26 Glengyron Row, Old Cumnock, Ayrshire 25Source: 1881 Scotland Census; 610/ 5/ 7; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire.

John [2] McKay; Head; Mar; 46; Ironstone Miner; born Lanarkshire, New Monkland
Elizabeth McKay; Wife; Mar; 40; occ; born Wigtownshire, Penninghame
Andrew McKay; Son; Unm; 18; Ironstone Miner; born Ayrshire, Old Cumnock
James McKay; Son; Unm; 16; Ironstone Miner; born Ayrshire, Old Cumnock
Jane McKay; Daur; Unm; 13; Scholar; born Ayrshire, Old Cumnock
William McKay; Son; 10; Scholar; born Ayrshire, Old Cumnock
Robert McKay; Son; 8; Scholar; born Ayrshire, Old Cumnock
David McKay; Son; 6; Scholar; born Ayrshire, Old Cumnock
Agnes McKay; Daur; 3; born Ayrshire, Old Cumnock

John’s father (John [1] McKay) had died two years earlier at this address, though there seems to be no record for him in the 1861 and 1871 censuses. By 1881, all of John [2] and Elizabeth’s children had been born, and all living at home on census night; however, John McMeekin, their elder half-brother, was an army private at the 61st Brigade Depot in Ayr, and the two older boys were working at the Glengyron Pit. The scenario would change dramatically before the next census, with three families now at Glengyron Row:

1891 SCOTLAND CENSUS: 8 Glengyron Row, Old Cumnock, Ayrshire 26Source: 1891 Scotland Census; 610/0A 5/ 17; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire.

John [2] McKie; Head; Mar; 64; Coalminer; born Lanarkshire, Airdrie
Elizabeth [McMeekin] McKie; Wife; Mar; 57; born Wigtownshire, Wigton
William McKie; Son; Unm; 21; Coalminer; born Ayrshire, Cumnock
Robert McKie; Son; Unm; 19; Coalminer; born Ayrshire, Cumnock
Agnes McKie; Daur; Unm; 14; born Ayrshire, Cumnock

1891 SCOTLAND CENSUS: 20 Glengyron Row, Old Cumnock, Ayrshire  27Source: 1891 Scotland Census; 610/0A 5/ 20; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire.

John McMeekin; Head; Mar; 29; Coalminer; born Ayrshire, Cumnock
Annie [Murdoch] McMeekin; Wife; Mar; 28; born Ireland
Thomas McMeekin; Son; 2 months; born Ayrshire, Old Cumnock

1891 SCOTLAND CENSUS: 21 Glengyron Row, Old Cumnock, Ayrshire 28Source: 1891 Scotland Census; 610/0A 5/ 20; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire.

Andrew McKie; Head; Mar; 28; Coalminer; born Ayrshire, Cumnock
Elizabeth [Brown] McKie; Wife; Mar; 27; born Ireland
Jessie [Logan] McKie; Daughter; Single; 2; born Kirkcudbrightshire, Kircowan
Mary McKie; Daughter; Single; 1; born Ayrshire, Cumnock

By the time of the 1891 census, Andrew McKay and Lizzie Brown had married (see marriage certificate in the next chapter) and had two children: an illegitimate Jessie Logan (who we know from DNA evidence was fathered by Andrew;29Source: 1889 Scotland Statutory Births, 888/ 12, Kirkcowan, Wigtownshire. and Mary.30Source: 1889 Scotland Statutory Births, 610/A 151, Old Cumnock, Ayrshire. Lizzie was already pregnant with her second child, John, at this census,31Source: 1891 Scotland Statutory Births; 610/A 159; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire. and had one more child, Thomas (1893), while living at Glengyron Row.32Source: 1893 Scotland Statutory Births; 610/A 28; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire. Shortly after his grandson Thomas was born, John [2] McKay passed away at Glengyron Row, leaving Elizabeth McMeekin a widow after 30 years of marriage:

1893 SCOTLAND STATUTORY DEATHS: Old Cumnock, Ayrshire 33Source: 1893  Scotland Statutory Deaths; 610/0A 93; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire.

John [2] McKay, Coal Miner, married to Elizabeth McMeekin
died: 17th December 1893 (2:45 pm)   age: 63 years
at: 8 Glengyron Row, Cumnock

father: John [1] McKay, Collier (deceased)
mother: Mary McKay M.S. Kilpatrick (deceased)

cause: Chronic Bronchitis (3 years); Cardiac Dilation   doctor: James McDonald M.B.C.M
informant: Andrew McKay, son (present)

However, Elizabeth was to last for another 16 years, but she was to live most of that in other places. We know little of her life after John [2] died, but she eventually lived with her son Robert. Robert seems to have been in the New Cumnock Parish from about 1893, when his father died, as we know his children were born there from about that time. Perhaps Elizabeth was part of his household by then, but he seems to have been at Coalburn in 1895,34Source: 1895 Valuation Rolls, VR009000113-/275, New Cumnock, Ayrshire. and at Mansfield Village, with his wife, three sons and his mother-in-law, Elizabeth, for the 1901 census:

1901 SCOTLAND CENSUS: Mansfield Village, New Cumnock, Ayrshire 35Source: 1901 Scotland Census; 608/ 2/ 37; New Cumnock, Ayrshire.

Robert McKay; Head; Mar; 29; Coal Miner (worker); born Old Cumnock, Ayrshire
Margaret [Brown] McKay; Wife; 22; born Sanquhar, Dumfries-shire
John McKay; Son; 8; Scholar; born New Cumnock, Ayrshire
Robert McKay; Son; 6; Scholar; born New Cumnock, Ayrshire
Henry McKay; Son; 5; born New Cumnock, Ayrshire
John Brown; Nephew; Unm; 16; Coal Miner (worker); born New Cumnock, Ayrshire
Elizabeth McKay; Mother; Widow; 59; Laundress (worker); born Newton Stewart, Galloway

Elizabeth was actually 63 and still working. Sometime in the next few years, however, she moved with her son Robert and his family to Airdrie, New Monkland, close to where her deceased husband, John [2] McKay, had been born. She was likely living with Robert’s family at 6b Davidson Street, Airdrie, when she began to fail, but was taken to the Poorhouse Hospital to die in October 1909, aged 73:

1909 SCOTLAND STATUTORY DEATHS: New Monkland, Lanarkshire 36Source: 1909 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 651/ 419; New Monkland, Lanarkshire.

Elizabeth MacKayWidow of John [2] MacKay, coal miner
died: 16th October 1909  (2:30 am)   age: 69 years [73 —ed.]
at: Poorhouse by Airdrie. Removed from Airdrie

father: John McMeekin, Coal Miner (deceased)
mother: Helen McMeekin M.S. Flynn (deceased)

cause: Senility    doctor: S. Martyn M.B.
informant: Robert MacKay, son    of: 6b Davidson St., Airdrie

The children of John [2] McKay and Elizabeth McMeekin

Elizabeth’s illegitimate son, John,37Source: 1861 Scotland Statutory Births; 610/ 88; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire. was brought up in the McKay household as one of the family. He was a coalminer like his half-brothers, but served for some time in Ayr as a soldier in the 61st Battalion. However, he was back in the pits when he married Annie Murdoch in 1890.38Source: 1890 Scotland Statutory Marriages, 607/ 26, Muirkirk, Ayrshire. John and Anne had an illegitimate boy in 1888, and another seven children between 1891 and 1904, including the ill-fated Andrew Ross (see “The Andrew Curse”). John and Anne lived mostly at Glengyron Row until she died in 1925.39Source: 1925 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 610/A 22; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire. John died 6 years later at Skerrington Terrace in Cumnock, aged 69.40Source: 1931 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 610/A 36; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire.

Andrew McKay was the next born (1863),41Source: 1863 Scotland Statutory Births; 610/ 112; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire. and his story is covered in both “The McKay Diaspora” and “The Andrew Curse”.

James McKay was born in 1865,42Source: 1865 Scotland Statutory Births; 610/ 139; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire. and, at 16 years,  he enlisted enlisted in the Army Transport Corp and was serving in Egypt in 1882. He was back in Britain the following year, but in 1884 he deserted, and was imprisoned for 58 days in July 1885. Although he returned to duty that September, he was in trouble again three years later when he spent two nights in Brixton Prison, London, for “misconduct” — the army discharged him on 21 Sep 1888, and two months later he married Mary Richardson in Airdrie, and was working as a coal miner.43Source: 1888 Scotland Statutory Marriages; 651/ 1 163; Airdrie, Lanarkshire. Married life seems to have settled James down, and he and Mary had 11 children between 1890 and 1912. However, James was to die at Hillrigg Colliery, New Monkland, when a loose chain fractured his skull in December 1912;44Source: 1912 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 651/ 492; New Monkland, Lanarkshire. he was only 46 years old. Mary remarried in 1926 (to Hugh Ross) and died in Airdrie in 1960.45Source: 1960 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 651/ 59; New Monkland, Lanarkshire. [I have a number of DNA connections with children of James McKay & Mary Richardson: Agnes Cameron (m. John Wark); Jeanie (m. Joseph McAuley); & Jessie (m. Robert Townsley).]

Jane McKay was born at Townfoot, Cumnock in 1867,46Source: 1867 Scotland Statutory Births; 610/ 5; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire. and died at Glengyron Row in 1939 aged 71.47Source: 1939 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 610/A 13; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire. She first married Hendry Stewart, in 1888,48Source: 1888 Scotland Statutory Marriages, 610/ 17, Old Cumnock, Ayrshire. and moved to Dumfries [see footnote 49Interestingly, it was at this wedding that we first come across Jess Logan, who was a witness at Jane’s wedding. Jess became pregnant at this time, and nine months later delivered an illegitimate child, Jessie Logan, who was brought up from birth by Andrew McKay and Lizzie Brown. It is a reasonable hypothesis that Andrew was the father, and recent DNA evidence seems to support this. ]. They appear to have had no children before he died in 1897 from influenza.50Source: 1897 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 821/ 76; Dumfries, Dumfries-shire. Jane returned to Cumnock and married Alfred Harris (a seaman from Bristol) in 1899,51Source: 1899 Scotland Statutory Marriages; 610/0A 6; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire. and had three (perhaps four) children with him. This couple lived at 41 Glengyron Row all of their married life, and this is where they both died.  [I have at least one DNA connection through Hendry Harris, 2nd child of Jane McKay & Alfred Harris.]

William McKay was also born at Townfoot, Cumnock (1869),52Source: 1869 Scotland Statutory Births; 610/ 152; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire. and like his older sister, lived at Glengyron Row for the rest of his life. William had two wives and four children with each. His first wife, Euphemia Milroy,53Source: 1895 Scotland Statutory Marriages; 608/ 6; New Cumnock, Ayrshire. died from TB in 1904, after only nine years of marriage, at the young age of 26.54Source: 1904 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 610/0A 48; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire. William then married Marion Sloss,55Source: 1909 Scotland Statutory Marriages; 577/ 1 10; Auchinleck, Ayrshire. but he died of typhoid at only 46 leaving her a widow for the next 33 years.56Source: 1916 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 577/01 44; Auchinleck, Ayrshire. Marion died at Mauchline, Ayrshire, in May 1949.57Source: 1949 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 604/ 107; Mauchline, Ayrshire.

Robert McKay was the last of John [2] and Elizabeth’s brood to be born at Townfoot (1872) before the family moved to Glengyron Row.58Source: 1872 Scotland Statutory Births; 610/ 37; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire. He married Maggie Brown at Craigbank, New Cumnock, in 1892 and had three children with her in that town.59Source: 1917 Scotland Statutory Marriages; 603/ 1 30; Newmilns, Ayrshire. Interestingly, Maggie’s younger brother, George,  married Robert’s younger sister, Agnes, in 1895 (sibling marriages). By 1901, Robert’s widowed mother (Elizabeth) was living with them at Mansfield Village, New Cumnock, but they all moved to Airdrie by 1911. As we saw above, his mother died in 1909, but Maggie was to follow in 1912, aged only 42 and taken by heart disease.60Source: 1912 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 625/ 3 36; Bellshill, Lanarkshire. At this time, Robert and Maggie had been living at Bellshill. Five years later (1917), Robert married a widowed Mary Jack in Galston, Ayrshire, but no children have been found of that marriage, which lasted 33 years.61Source: 1917 Scotland Statutory Marriages; 603/ 1 30; Newmilns, Ayrshire. Robert was 79 when he died of a stroke in Galston in 1951,62Source: 1951 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 593/ 15; Galston, Ayrshire. and Annie was 80 when she joined him in 1960.63Source: 1960 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 593/ 32; Galston, Ayrshire.

David McKay was born at Glengyron Row in 1874,64Source: 1874 Scotland Statutory Births; 610/ 99; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire. but died in 1886 of fever aged 11 in Airdrie, Lanarkshire.65Source: 1886 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 651/ 1 76; Airdrie or New Monkland, Lanarkshire. It is not clear who David was living with when he died, as his parents were still alive and living at Glengyron Row until at least 1893, and he was too young to be working in the pits. He did have aunts and uncles on his father’s side in Airdrie, and his older brother James was certainly there by 1888 (when he married).

The youngest of John [2] and Elizabeth’s brood was Agnes McKay, who was born at Glengyron Row in 1877.66Source: 1877 Scotland Statutory Births; 610/ 52; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire. As mentioned above, she married George Brown (her brother Robert’s brother-in-law) at Coalburn, New Cumnock in 1895,67Source: 1895 Scotland Statutory Marriages; 608/ 18; New Cumnock, Ayrshire. and they had at least two children.68An interesting side note is that Maggie and George were the children of Sarah Hunter, whose grand nephew married Jessie McKay (illeg. d/o Andrew McKay and Jess Logan) in 1911. Agnes and George eventually ended up in Galston like other members of the McKay family. George died in 1925 after 29 years of marriage,69Source: 1925 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 603/ 1 5; Newmilns, Ayrshire. but Agnes lived on for another 31 years and died in Galston of a stroke in 1956, aged 79.70Source: 1956 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 593/ 57; Galston, Ayrshire.


3. Thomas [2] Brown & Mary McCulloch

We know from the birth certificates for some of their children, that Thomas [2] Brown and Mary McCulloch were married on Christmas Eve, 1856, at Rathfriland in the Parish of Drumgath, County Down, Ireland. Their first two children, Grace and Elizabeth (my great-granny), were born there around 1860 and 1863, respectively, but there may have been others before them that didn’t survive infancy. However, by 1864, the Brown family had moved from County Down to Patna, in Ayrshire, where Thomas worked as a coal miner; it was here they had a further two children: Mary Ann (1864);71Source: 1864 Scotland Statutory Births; 671/ 51; Straiton, Ayrshire. and Thomas (1867).72Source: 1867 Scotland Statutory Births; 617/ 5; Straiton, Ayrshire. Mary Ann died in Patna of convulsions just before her second birthday.73Source: 1866 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 617/ 25; Straiton, Ayrshire.

In February 2020, a DNA match to a 3rd cousin on led to the discovery that Thomas [2] had at least two younger brothers who had also migrated to Ayrshire: Archibald (born c.1841), and Samuel (c.1852). At the 1861 census, Archibald was lodging in Kilwinning and working for the Eglinton Iron Works,74Source: 1861 Scotland Census; 599/ 12/ 18; Kilwinning, Ayrshire. and 10 years later the brothers were both coal miners and lodging together at Green Square.75Source: 1871 Scotland Census; 599/ 14/ 17; Kilwinning, Ayrshire. Samuel was to marry and eventually die (1913)76Source: 1913 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 599/ 57; Kilwinning, Ayrshire. in Kilwinning, while Archibald remained single and died in Airdrie, Lanarkshire (1898).77Source: 1898 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 651/ 551; Airdrie, New Monkland. From their death certificates, we discover that their parents were Thomas [1] Brown and Mary Tuff (perhaps Duff).

Kerse was a small hamlet on the B730, between Polnessan and Knockshinnoch.

Patna was a tiny mining village in the Straiton Parish established by William Fullerton in 1802; it is named after the town in India of the same name (Fullerton’s father had worked for the British East India Cº). It lies on the A713 on the Ayr–Dalmellington Road, and the Brown family were to live along this narrow belt, called the Doon Valley, for at least 20 years.  In 1869, after three or four years in Patna, Thomas [2] and his family moved to 7 Kerse Store, a hamlet about 3 km (2 miles) further north. It was here that their fifth child, Isabella, was born;78Source: 1869 Scotland Statutory Births; 588/ 48; Dalrymple, Ayrshire. but, by the 1871 census, they were all at Drumgrange Row in Waterside, which was mainly a weaving town. However, by August of that year, they had moved from Drumgrange Row to Truffhill Row where their last two children were born: George (1871)79Source: 1871 Scotland Statutory Births; 586/ 209; Dalmellington, Ayrshire. and Alexander Dickson (1873).80Source: 1873 Scotland Statutory Births; 586/ 251; Dalmellington, Ayrshire. George, though, had died at Truffhill Row of measles and bronchitis in June 1872, aged only ten months.81Source: 1872 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 586/ 53; Dalmellington, Ayrshire.

1871 SCOTLAND CENSUS: 35 Drumgrange Row, Waterside, Ayrshire 82Source: 1871 Scotland Census; 586/ 1/ 20; Waterside, Ayrshire.

Thomas [2] Brown; Head; Mar; 34; Coalminer; born Ireland
Mary [McCulloch] Brown; Wife; Mar; 34; Coalminer’s wife; born Ireland
Grace Brown; Daur; 11; Scholar; born Ireland
Eliza Brown; Daur; 9; Scholar; born Ireland
Thomas Brown; Son; 4; born Patna, Straiton, Ayrshire
Isabella Brown; Daur; 2 born Patna, Straiton, Ayrshire

With no more births after Alexander, it’s hard to determine when the family moved from Waterside to Dalmellington, but they were living there, at Croft Street, by 1881 — by then, the two older girls had left home, with Grace marrying William McMillan on New Year’s Eve 1880 in Dalmellington.83Source: 1881 Scotland Statutory Marriages; 586/ 2; Dalmellington, Ayrshire.

1881 SCOTLAND CENSUS: 4 Croft Street, Dalmellington, Ayrshire 84Source: 1881 Scotland Census; 581; 4/ 12; Dalmellington, Ayrshire.

Thomas [2] Brown; Head; Mar; 44; Coal Miner; born Ireland
Mary [McCulloch] Brown; Wife; Mar; 44; Coal Miner’s Wife; born Ireland
Thomas Brown; Son; Unm; 14; Coal Miner; born Patna, Ayrshire
Isabella Brown; Daur; Unm; 11; Scholar; born Kerse, Ayrshire
Alexander Brown; Son; Unm; 7; Scholar; born Kerse, Ayrshire

1881 SCOTLAND CENSUS: 4 Croft Street, Dalmellington, Ayrshire 85Source: 1881 Scotland Census; 578; 2/ 14; Ayr, Ayrshire.

Walter Miller; Head; Mar; 39; Spirit Merchant; born Killwinning, Ayrshire
—— Miller family ——
Lizzie Brown; Servant; Unm; 18; General Servant; born Ireland

For the 1881 census, the 18-year-old Lizzie (my great-grandmother) was working as a general servant for the Miller family, spirit merchants of 188 High Street, Ayr.86Source: 1881 Scotland Census; 578; 2/ 14; Ayr, Ayrshire. Sometime after this, both Lizzie and her parents independently moved to the town of Cumnock, and Lizzie married Andrew McKay there in 1889:

1889 SCOTLAND STATUTORY MARRIAGE: Old Cumnock, Ayrshire 87Source: 1889 Scotland Statutory Marriages; 610/A 8; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire

married: 15th February 1889   at: Bridgend, Cumnock
After publication according to the Forms of the Church of Scotland

Andrew McKay, Coal Miner (Bachelor)   age: 26   of: Barrhill Road, Cumnock
father: John [2] McKay, Coal Miner
mother:  Elizabeth McKay M.S. McMeekin

Elizabeth Brown, Domestic Servant (Spinster)  age: 24   of: Bridgend, Cumnock
fatherThomas [2] Brown, Coal Miner
mother:  Mary Brown M.S. McCulloch

minister: J. Spence Robertson
witnessesJames Murdoch; Bella Brown

Bridgend is the area of Cumnock on the Ayr Road just 400 meters (440 yards) southwest of Townfoot, more or less as you begin to leave the village. Andrew had been living in Barrhill Road, so probably working at the ironstone pit at Barrhill (just past the old cemetery). Two years after the marriage, Andrew and Lizzie were living with two children at Glengyron Row, 800 meters (880 yards) further to the southwest (see the 1891 census in the previous chapter), while Thomas [2] and Mary were living at Green Mill House, which is just north of Bridgend Row.

1891 SCOTLAND CENSUS: Greenmill House, Old Cumnock, Ayrshire 88Source: 1891 Scotland Census; 610/A 3/ 41; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire.

Thomas [2] Brown; Head; Mar; 52; Coal Miner (employed); born Ireland
Mary [McCulloch] Brown; Wife; Mar; 53; born Ireland
Thomas Brown; Son; Unm; 24; Coal Miner (employed); born Patna, Ayrshire
Isabella Brown; Daur; Unm; 21; born Patna, Ayrshire
Alexander Brown; Son; Unm; 17; Coal Miner (employed); born Patna, Ayrshire

From a 1911 map of the Eglinton Ironworks at Kilwinning. This map shows some of the ‘rows’ where members of the Brown family lived between 1898 and the 1960s. Andrew McKay and his family also lived here sometime between 1895 and 1900.

The two boys are now working men, and Isabella is the only daughter left at home. Lizzie and Andrew and were to have two more children while living at Glengyron Row: John (May, 1891)89Source: 1891 Scotland Statutory Births; 610/A 159; Old Cumnock, Ayrshire. and Thomas (February 1893), but the Brown family were to leave Cumnock sometime after this and moved to the Eglinton Ironworks at Kilwinning in North Ayrshire. These ironworks were founded by William Baird & Cº in 1846, and operated till about 1926. They were mainly concerned with the manufacture of firebricks and there were eight blast furnaces in operation by 1859, mostly operating around the clock. Iron was also produced at this site, producing at one time nearly 100,000 tons of iron per year.  We know the Brown family had moved here before 1898, because in May of that year, Isabella married Daniel Cairney at Kilwinning90Source: 1898 Scotland Statutory Marriages; 599/ 28; Kilwinning, Ayrshire. — and shortly after that, Mary died after 41 years of marriage and having brought seven children into the world:

1898 SCOTLAND STATUTORY DEATHS: Kilwinning, Ayrshire 91Source: 1898 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 599/ 462; Kilwinning, Ayrshire.

Mary BrownMarried to Thomas [2] Brown, Coalminer
died: 10th August 1898  (3:00 pm)  age: 63 years
at: Eglinton Ironworks, Kilwinning

father: George McCulloch, Farmer (deceased)
mother: Grace McCulloch M.S. Geddes (deceased)

cause: Inflammation of Bowels, 10 days   doctor: David Gage, Surgeon
informant: Thomas Brown, his X Mark, Widower (present)

Here we finally discover her parents’ names: George McCulloch and Grace Geddes (my 3G-grandparents). Two and a half years later, when the 1901 census was taken, Thomas and Alexander were still living with their father, but the family were now joined by his daughter Isabella and her husband and two children:

1901 SCOTLAND CENSUS: 39 Double Row, Eglinton Ironworks, Kilwinning, Ayrshire 92BROWN, Thomas; 1901 Scotland Census; 599/ 2/ 33; Kilwinning, Ayrshire.

Thomas [2] Brown; Head; Widr; 64; Lab. (worker); born Ireland
Thomas Brown; Son; Single; 34; Coalminer (worker); born Patna, Ayrshire
Alexander Brown; Son; Single; 27; Coalminer (worker); born Waterside, Ayrshire
Daniel Cairney; Son-in-law; Mar; 28; Asst. Furnaceman (worker); born Kilwinning, Ayrshire
Isabella Cairney; Daur; Mar; 31; born Kerse, Ayrshire
Lizzie Cairney; Gr. Daur; 2; born Kilwinning, Ayrshire
Tom. Cairney; Gr. Son; 1; born Kilwinning, Ayrshire

Alexander was the last of the Brown children to leave home, marrying Agnes Stevenson in 1906.93Source: 1906 Scotland Statutory Marriages; 599/ 6; Kilwinning, Ayrshire. The son Thomas had moved away by 1911, but old Thomas [2] was still working and living with his daughter Isabella and family at the Eglinton Ironworks:

1911 SCOTLAND CENSUS: 4 School Row, Eglinton Ironworks, Kilwinning, Ayrshire 94BROWN, Thomas; 1911 Scotland Census; 599/ 2/ 26 & 27; Kilwinning, Ayrshire.

Daniel Cairney; Head; 38; Mar; Mar; Night Watchman (blast furnace); born Kilwinning, Ayrshire
Isabella Cairney; Wife; 41; Mar 8 yrs (8 births, 5 living); born Patna, Ayrshire
Alexander Cairney; Son; 8; Scholar; born Kilwinning, Ayrshire
Isabella Cairney; Daur; 6; Scholar; born Kilwinning, Ayrshire
Frank Cairney; Son; 4; born Kilwinning, Ayrshire
Grace Cairney; Daur; 2; born Kilwinning, Ayrshire
Mary Cairney; Daur; 1; born Kilwinning, Ayrshire
Thomas [2] Brown; Father-in-law; 73; Widower; Labourer (blast furnace); born Ireland

Thomas [2] Brown was to live another five years at the ironworks, and died after having been a widower for the best part of 18 years. He had come from Rathfriland in County Down, and lived in Ayrshire from about 1864 till he died from old age in 1916:

1916 SCOTLAND STATUTORY DEATHS: Kilwinning, Ayrshire 95BROWN, Thomas [2]; 1916 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 599/ 42; Kilwinning, Ayrshire.

Thomas Brown, Widower of Mary McCulloch
died: 20th May 1916  (11:10 am)   age: 76 years
at: 2 School Row, Eglinton Ironworks, Kilwinning

father: Thomas [1] Brown, Labourer (deceased)
mother: — Brown M.S. — (deceased)

cause: Senile Decay   doctor: David P. Gage L.R.C.P. etc.
informant: Thomas Brown, Son (present)

Children of Thomas [2] Brown and Mary McCulloch

Grace Brown was born at Rathfriland Ireland about 1860. She married William McMillan at Dalmellington in 1880 and had nine children between 1881 and 1901. Her husband died in Galston, Ayrshire, a few months after her father died, and she passed away at the same address as her father in February 1936, aged 76. Her sister Elizabeth was my great-grandmother, and the remainder of her story is told in the next chapter.

Mary Ann (1864–1866) was the first child of Thomas and Mary to be born in Scotland, but she died before her second birthday at Patna in South Ayrshire. Thomas was also born at Patna, but he never married. He had been a coalminer all his life and died of a heart attack at the Trades Hotel in Stevenson, Ayrshire, in 1942. He was 75 years old.

Isabella had been born at Kerse Store in 1869, and married Daniel Cairney as we said above. They had seven children between 1899 and 1910, and was living at 2 School Row, Eglinton Ironworks, when she died of a stroke in 1940.96Source: 1940 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 599/ 100; Kilwinning, Ayrshire. She was 71. Daniel lived on for another 23 years, dying quite nearby at Blacklands Crescent.97Source: 1963 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 595/ 169; Irvine, Ayrshire. George, born August 1871, was the second child to die in infancy, being born and dying at Truffhill Row, Waterside, aged 10 months.

Alexander Dickson Brown was born in August 1873. He married Agnes Stevenson in 1906 and had at least five children. Alexander and Agnes lived at Kilwinning until he died in 1961 aged 88.98Source: 1961 Scotland Statutory Deaths; 599/ 156; Kilwinning, Ayrshire. Agnes lived till the ripe old age of 92, and died in 1974. 99Death certificate not available. I have recently been in contact with two great-granddaughters who live in the USA through a DNA match in – they are descendants of Alexanders’ oldest child, Agnes Stevenson Brown, who married Otto Soergel [more information to follow.]

See the relevant maps (maps open in new browser tabs):

A footnote:

As mentioned above, two of the children of John [2] McKay and Elizabeth McMeekin married a “Brown” — Robert McKay m. Margaret Brown (1892); and Agnes McKay m. George Brown (1895). These “Browns” were siblings, children of John Brown and Sarah Hunter — so, siblings married siblings. As we will find out in the next chapter, the “Hunter” family also gained another connection with the McKays when Jessie McKay married William Hunter, a grandson of Sarah Hunter. The following chart, though similar to the one above, highlights those connections:



3. Cumnock: 1861–1893 — No Comments

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